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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I’m a late bloomer too, I began to play two and half years ago the clarinet, and now I’d like to try also the soprano sax at the age of 50.
I like the New Orleans style. I am a fan of the late Sidney Bechet.
Since I want to play, I have to find a sax. After reading some conversations on this forum, it seems that I have two choices, if I want to spend between US$1,200 to 1,500, or a little more, on a sax.
First choice is a sax from the East, Taiwan, or a second hand. Or may be a vintage, and I should say that I like the idea to play on an old instrument.
However, I would like to know if it makes sense, if they are, if not easy, at least possible to play, and what is the intonation of saxes like Buesher True Tone, or Martin Handcraft, or Conn Wonder, or…
And with what kind of mouthpiece should they be played?
Also, what is a C-melody? Is it a sax tuned in C?
Thank you for your advice,
Eric
 

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Likewise, welcome. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable about soprano will soon offer much better advice but here's my 2d (in old money): You may well find that the adjustment from clarinet to soprano is quite tough. IMHO the soprano embouchure is even trickier to control than the clarinet. If you're interested in sax it might make sense to start on alto. If you're set on soprano, yanigisawa/yamaha (maybe second hand for a good deal) is a good bet. Among vintage instruments I believe earlier Bueschers are well thought of. A C mel is indeed a sax tuned in C concert. All the best.
 

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Switching to soprano?

RootyTootoot said:
Likewise, welcome. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable about soprano will soon offer much better advice but here's my 2d (in old money): You may well find that the adjustment from clarinet to soprano is quite tough. IMHO the soprano embouchure is even trickier to control than the clarinet. If you're interested in sax it might make sense to start on alto. If you're set on soprano, yanigisawa/yamaha (maybe second hand for a good deal) is a good bet. Among vintage instruments I believe earlier Bueschers are well thought of. A C mel is indeed a sax tuned in C concert. All the best.
I agree with Rooty, but it depends too on what you want to do. If you want to play with other folk in bands alto will give you more opportunity to play and learn. Alto is a much easier horn to start on and dosen't present all the challanges of a soprano when first starting on sax. It too will help to remind you that a sax is not a clarinet!

Excellent choices for a soprano on the high end of your range would be a Cannonball or a P Mauriat.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your advice.
Actually, straight or curved, I don't know. Six months ago, I thought that all sopranos were straight, like carots. Even if I would prefer these instead of the curved, my major problem would be more about the intonation of these instruments. About the embouchure, my clarinet teacher let me tried his soprano saxophone, (which is a Yamaha) and I was able to play a scale instantly. Of course the embouchure is different, but it was not that difficult. According to him, sax is easier to learn, because of the octave key, and because of the pads instead of the fingers.
I never played in a band, only with CD, and I would love to find a guitar and a bass player to play with. And I prefer the sound of a soprano (or a tenor).
 

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Wafaic,

Check this out re: Alto sax; check also the embedded link
for the new C-Melody sax that is coming along.
http://www.cmelodysax.co.uk/aquilasax/review.htm

I'd like to own a soprano but can't yet & have no useful
knowledge of them but for having tried one in a store.
I own a tenor & a clarinet. If you've been playing clarinet
for 2-1/2 years I don't see sop as that terrible a task.
You will probably enjoy the sax key-work scheme
as compare to clari.

More importantly, from your post it seems you may lack
enough hands-on experience with different sax voices
to be confident as to which you desire. Borrow or rent,
I rented an alto & tenor, it was bread well spent (had
clari experience from the ice-age.) All the saxs benefit
from an embouchure different from your clarinet and
the soprano is in fact the least friendly. Be wary of
buying a sax you can't try first unless you're highly
motivated and absolutely have return privileges.

We don't have time to waste; if it is a soprano you
want I suggest you do that rather than make a 'wiser'
choice, as long as you've done a reasonable amount of homework.
 

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Soprano and Bechet, eh? I'm sure that will bring Mr. Dolson to make an appearance soon, but in the meantime...

For vintage horns, I have heard the most positive buzz about the Buescher TTs. I have a 64xxx Martin sop I recently acquired and it plays in tune quite well. You should be able to find either horn in very nice condition in your price range.

For more modern horns, if you search around this forum and in the Soprano section especially, you'll see a lot of positive info about Antiqua Winds sopranos. They are very well-made Yanagisawa copies. Cannonballs and Mauriats are good too, or so I hear, but both would be over the range you mention unless you search for a used one.

For used but not-quite-vintage horns, a Yamaha or Yanagisawa would be nice too. Do you live somewhere where there's a nice woodwinds store where you can try some horns? Good luck and let us know what you eventually decide.
 

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Eric: Welcome to SOTW. Like Mr. Beane said, I am a HUGE fan of Bechet. I started on soprano as a 16-year old and have been playing it as my first-call saxophone ever since (50 years). I now play with a band called the Golden Eagle Jazz Band, based in southern California - our material is 1920's jazz in the New Orleans' style.

I think you'd be better off buying a good Taiwanese soprano over a vintage horn. My best vintage soprano is a '28 straight Buescher TrueTone, but my Yanagisawa S992 has a better scale and equal response. I also have an Antigua (Taiwanese) that plays well. There is a lot available in today's saxophone world, it is up to you to find 'em, try 'em, and make a decision.

A good place to start is Dave Kessler's store in Las Vegas. He sells his own house-brand Taiwanese-made soprano, as well as Antiguas and in my opinion, the best saxophones made today, Yanagisawa. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Nice to know Dave... I enjoy to play on the clarinet "Si Tu Vois Ma Mère" (Lonesome), "Promenade Aux Champs Élysées", Passport To Paradise" and more. I'd love to find more partitions. Bechet was a real star in my country and when I was a kid I heard my uncle's records on his stereo. Now there is a musician, Olivier Franc, who is playing lots of Bechet songs, and I think (I may be wrong) that Bechet's son plays the drum in his band. http://www.olivierfranc.com/pages/main.php?lang=en
However, I will have a look for these Taïwanese saxes. Where I live -Hong Kong- there is not much choice, Yamaha, of course, Yanagisawa, a little expensive for a starter, Unison, and a few other brands I don't hear much about, made in China I think. I once had the oportunity to visit a factory of music instruments, in the early 90's, in China, and... well, I hope they do better now.
In Hong Kong, Tom Lee is the big guy on the music business, and Professional Music Service comes next, I think, for the saxes. So, a shipment from the US may be an option to consider. Thanks again.
Eric
 

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Eric: SI TU VOIS . . . is also known as IF YOU SEE MY MOTHER. That song is a must-play for sopranoists in trad jazz. I once played it with a well-known trad brass guy from Canada (Jim Armstrong) who sang it in French. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. There are SO many good Bechet tunes, though.

Now that we know you are in Hong Kong, that makes it easier for us to make (or NOT make) recommendations. I don't know if Kessler ships saxophones to Hong Kong - that you will have to determine yourself. I don't understand why that would be better for you, though, being that you are a lot closer to Taiwan than to Las Vegas. Maybe there's something in the business-end of it all. DAVE
 

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I'm going to swim upstream on this one and encourage your switch from clarinet straight to soprano. I did the same thing when I was 50+, and I'm still more comfortable on soprano than alto or tenor. The one thing you will have to fight is the temptation to play a soprano like a clarinet (body position, embouchure, etc.) I started with an Antigua Winds LQ-590 and now play a Buescher True Tone (Thanks, JL!). Both are really good saxes but the TT fits my hands better.

BTW, once you get started, you're gonna wonder why it took you so long to have this much fun! :D
 

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Wafaic, welcome to the forum. Like you I started on clarinet as a late bloomer.:D But then I discovered the alto and I haven't looked back.
Good luck with whatever sax you choose.

Ben
 
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